LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The new documentary, Overload: America’s Toxic Love Story, is out for all to see on Amazon. It took Louisville-based Director and Producer, Soozie Eastman, seven years to get to this point.
“It was pretty fun to go on my Amazon Fire Stick and pull up my own film on my TV, in my living room,” Eastman said.
The documentary’s idea came from a 2005 study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit featured in the film. It showed the 10 newborn babies tested had an average of 200 chemicals in them.
“And that’s when I was looking more into what it would take one day, eventually, to have a child or things that I should be thinking about in terms of health,” Eastman explained. “And it really got me thinking about what was in my body that would one day be passed down to my child.”
Transplant Hepatologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville Dr. Matthew Cave is not in or affiliated with the documentary, but he does research environmental health.
“And so there are some reports, increasingly strong reports, particularly from rodent research studies, particularly in say mice or rats show just that. That some chemicals similar to the ones that were measured in the documentary can cause health effects to babies and even subsequent generations, grandchildren,” Dr. Cave told Spectrum News 1.
Even though Eastman worked in the film industry, she had never made a documentary before, but she was determined. She not only directed and produced the film, she is also the subject who gets tested for 119 of the most commonly used chemicals in everyday products.
“I was pretty shocked with the level of toxins that were in my body, sometimes in the 95th percentile, which is really staggeringly high,” Eastman said.
In an effort to reduce those levels, she goes on two 30-day detoxes.
“The first was really that palatable one that any consumer could do,” Eastman explained.
Some of those changes included buying organic fruits and vegetables that are on the Dirty Dozen list, an annual ranking by EWG of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.
She also switched out plastic food containers for glass. When she goes to restaurants, she asks that leftovers be wrapped in foil versus put in a plastic or styrofoam container, which is usually provided.
“I think the biggest thing that I learned was the amount of plastic that I carried in my body, and the amount of plastic that I use. And that's definitely something moving forward, that I really have tried to minimize in my life,” Eastman said.
She also replaced her non-stick pans for ceramic ones. Dr. Cave says the chemical components of non-stick coatings are of increasing concern over the last year.
“So those are in things like Teflon and Scotchgard, and many other household products” Dr. Cave said, adding, “to keep clothes or materials stain free or cookware nonstick, and so potentially minimizing use of those types of chemicals could help.”
Eastman also used an app by EWG that allows a consumer to scan products, review its rating, and then choose the one has the highest rating, in order to help avoid products with more harmful chemicals.
“I think the empowerment that I feel now having found the resources to be able to make smarter decisions is probably the best thing that's come out of this is,” Eastman said.
For her, the documentary wasn’t just for show.
“I'm reaping the benefits of the film far after, you know, the last light was turned off, [and] the last interview was done. I'm living the film now, and that's a really great way to feel, moving forward,” Eastman said.
To learn more about Eastman’s journey and other tips she learned, the documentary is available on Amazon. She also has more tips on what she learned on her documentary’s social impact website Greener Cleaner Me.